Juan Mata admits rivalry is gearing up ahead of Manchester Derby

by Leo Nieboer


Juan Mata has been discussing the excitement and high expectations surrounding the upcoming Manchester derby on September 10.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola, who have both overseen 100% starts during their first month in Manchester, will renew their famous rivalry next Saturday at Old Trafford.

Mata is set to maintain his place in the starting XI with doubts continuing to loom over the fitness of both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jesse Lingard.

Writing in his weekly blog, Mata expressed his enthusiasm surrounding the biggest game of the season so far.

“After the international break, there is a game coming on Saturday that I’m sure many of you are waiting for: the Manchester derby,” he wrote. 

“All of us are fully aware that this is a very special game, yet we have to understand that these are three points and don’t get too crazy. Both teams have started the Premier League well and the expectations are high, as everybody can imagine.

David De Gea and me have been joking with Nolito and [David] Silva in the last few days, although the truth is we are now focused on the games with the national team. After that, we will have plenty of time to think about this exciting derby.”

This is a derby of astronomical proportions. Fierce rivalries exist on more than one level: there is, of course, the same antipathy between the two badges, amplified in this case by a mutual desire to make the first big statement in this year’s title race. And then there’s Guardiola, the tiki-taka overlord, the footballing hipster’s dream, against Mourinho – the villain, the warrior, the Special One.

Old Trafford promises to be a cauldron of noise as it lays witness to what will be the biggest Manchester derby of the post-Fergie era. Both teams have embraced new dawns and pastures new, displaying discernible levels of improvement. The derby, however, will reveal who sets the benchmark for the 2016/17 campaign.

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